Doily No. 2
24" x 24" encaustic/mm on panel
Lynette (LH): Amber, can you share with my readers a little about yourself?
Amber George: I am a painter and printmaker. I enjoy making art more than just about anything else in life, it dominates most of my day, actions and thoughts. I'm married to a craftsman who builds custom homes and cabinetry. I really love to cook and spend time in my yard. My husband and I also enjoy sailing.
LH: Where did you grow up and what (if any) were there any early influences on your work?
Lynette: Amber, can you share with my readers a little about yourself?
Amber: I grew up mostly in Southern California. I think the outdoors were a big influence on me, along with my grandmothers. We were always doing creative things, cooking, sewing, going to fabric stores, making crafts. We also spent quite a bit of time gardening, I remember picking rhubarb, cleaning it and making rhubarb crisp with it with my grandmother. It was a really remarkable thing to me at that age.
LH: Where do you live now?
Amber: I live in Southern California in a small artist community called Fallbrook. It's a remote little piece of heaven to me.
LH: Did you receive any formal art training? If yes, where, and what did you major in?
Amber: I took art classes for three years in high school and then received a BA in Fine Art from UCLA.
LH: At what point in your life did you become interested in making art?
Amber: I think looking back I was always making art. I remember sitting on the front porch looking west when I was about 5 or 6 and thinking that I couldn't color fast enough to capture the changing colors in the sky. I collected bits of ribbon and string, glued them to a glass jar, filled it with flowers and gave it to my mother for a present when I was about 7. I also won a coloring contest when I was in 3rd grade, an ice skating teddy bear. So cheesy, but I felt really proud.
Lace No. 1
18'" x18" encaustic/mm on panel
LH: Was there a certain point when you decided you were primarily an artist?
Amber: Probably in high school. I was the "class artist." I illustrated things for the year book, graduation programs, ASB logos. And I was expected to be different, which was oddly freeing considering high school is all about fitting in for many students. When it came time to apply for college I knew I would apply for art programs. Initially my parents were resistant, especially my father, but I think they figured that if I went to UCLA I would change my major. Oops.
Plaids and Prints
12" x 36", encaustic/mm on panel
LH: Can you describe bit about your work in general?
Amber: Aesthetically speaking, I enjoy creating patterns. I also like taking a variety of elements and creating a new whole thing with them, so using papers, texture tools and odds and ends fascinate me. I have a hard time throwing away papers, especially monotypes that don't work. I almost always keep them to use in something else later. The subject matter that I am interested in right now is about memory, impressions that are real and metaphorical. I frequently reference nature, the landscape and sewing references as a vehicle to communicate those ideas. The work illustrates my general engagement and disengagement with traditional roles and ideas, painting things that are traditionally straight, even, symmetrical and what have you in a subtly irreverent, haphazard way.
LH: What is your media?
Amber: I primarily use encaustic paint, but I rely heavily on my own photography, collage items and monotypes to create my imagery.
LH: What is your current work about?
Amber: The current work I am making in the studio is all about sewing and impressions, memories of childhood and the quiet mending involved in that. The series started as a way for me to grieve over the loss of my grandfather and prepare for the transitions in life that it started. Many of the images in the paintings are inspired by this transition.
LH: What is your workspace like?
Amber: I have a small studio in my house. It feels very cocoon like for me, a safe and productive space for me. Everything is close and in reach at all times. My husband built me great storage cabinets and painting racks, so everything stays pretty organized and efficient. I have a view of my garden that keeps me checked in to the ever evolving aspects of life.
LH: Describe how you work in your studio. How do you get "in a groove" and what inspires you?
Amber: I do get in a groove. I tend to play a set of CD's that somehow relate to whatever I am working on, although to the outsider it probably seems not related at all. It seems to have an hypnotic effect and lets me free parts of my mind to create more easily. I tend to wear loose comfortable clothing. I typically start my studio time in the late morning or early afternoon. I like to visually review what I'd been working on in days past and start with easy task, like priming panels or cutting paper, nothing too intense. Before you know it I have a flash about what needs to be done on this painting or that one and I get to work. I work on several paintings at once which helps me from getting stuck. If I don't know what to do next in one painting I set it aside and work on another one.
LH: Do you have any web links you'd like to share?
Amber: My website is ambergeorge.com and my blog is ambergeorge.wordpress.com
LH: Do you ever get stuck with your work and how do you remedy this?
Amber: I do get stuck. When I do, I try to spend as much time in the studio as possible. I remind myself of something that a professor of mine told me in college, the times you least want to paint are the times that you most need to paint. I don't subscribe to the idea that I have to be "in the mood" to paint. If as an artist you are communicating ideas then those ideas fuel the work, not a mood.
LH: Do you have particular habits that you think support your art practice?
Amber: SLEEP!! I try to not wake up to an alarm clock. This starts my day off much calmer and I feel as though I get enough sleep, a key to maintaining creativity. I try to make sure I get any errands done in the morning since I am most creative in the afternoon. I try to leave the studio everyday on a high note. I work until I have a good feeling about something, or a very clear idea of what I'd like to get done the next day. I try not to leave the studio frustrated, but that inevitably happens sometimes too.
LH: What are you reading right now?
Amber: I am finishing A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book.
LH: Do you have other jobs other than making art?
Amber: I teach occasional workshops in encaustic and monotype. It helps balance out my solitary quiet time in the studio, and I believe in the Chinese saying that, "when one teaches two learn."
LH: Where would you like to be in 5 years as far as your art making?
Amber: I would like to continue to paint about ideas that are exciting and interesting to me. I'd like to be working in some ideas I have right now about 3 dimensional work. I hope I am still experimenting and exploring.
LH: Do you have any upcoming shows that you'd like to mention?
Amber: I have a two person show at Page Bond Gallery in Richmond Virginia that will be up until the end of May and I'll be in two group shows in July, one at Julie Nester Gallery in Park City Utah and another at Susan Eley Fine Art in New York.
Thank you Amber!